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Bad Elements: Chinese Rebels from Los Angeles to Beijing

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Ian Buruma

Myths abound about China: all Chinese everywhere are united in a community of enduring culture; Western-style democracy is unsuited to China, as it would bring only chaos and the disruption of unity. In this brilliant report of his encounters with Chinese … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Ian Buruma
Publisher: Random House
1 review about Bad Elements: Chinese Rebels from Los Angeles...

The Huge Onion Which Resists Peeling

  • Jan 10, 2002
For decision-makers in companies which are either doing business in China now or are planning to, this is a must read. Buruma examines various "bad elements" in China and elsewhere whose intransigence and (in several instances) corruption create serious barriers to communication and cooperation as well as to commerce with the western world. Viewed as a global market, the People's Republic of China offers business opportunities which are almost comprehensible. For those of us in democratic societies in which dissent is not only possible but protected by law, it is difficult to grasp the nature and extent of suppression of human rights which we so easily take for granted. Among dissenters, opinions vary as to the pace of reform by which to establish such rights. At one point in this brilliant book, Buruma discusses Dai Qing who can be described as a "go slow intellectual." She advocates patience and prudence, confident of eventual reforms. "One sees what she means, but the analysis is flawed. On the contrary, the raw emotions, the latent hysteria, the pent-up aggressions seething under the surface of Chinese life are the result of living a lie. As long as people speak cannot freely, nothing can be exposed to to the light of reason, and raw emotions will take over." Over the centuries, social reform in China has never been easy and often traumatic. After conducting interviews with several dozen "mavericks" and then reflecting upon what they have shared with him, Buruma seems skeptical that significant social reform can be achieved, given the opposition of various "bad elements." He may be right. There is also the possibility that one totalitarian dynasty will simply give way to another. In that event, to what extent will suppression of dissent be sustained? To what extent will such a new dynasty be more willing and able to accommodate new technologies, notably the Internet? Buruma asks these and other critically important questions. He and we await answers which will indeed have global implications: positive, negative, or more likely both.

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